music business consultant
Daiuly Camera Top

Boulder Daily Camera
July 25, 2004

So You Wanna Be A Rock and Roll Star

A primer on everything from set lists to groupies

By Matt Sebastian

SUNDAY, JULY 25, 2004

So you wanna be a rock and roll star?

Local authors get gig with ‘Complete Idiot’s’ franchise

DENVER- It’s tougher than it looks, this busi­ness of writing books for morons.
Just ask Mark Bliesener and Steve Knopper, a pair of local authors who recently banged out “The Complete Idiots Guide to Starting a Band,’ a primer on everything from picking set lists to dealing with sex-starved groupies.
When the authors started the project last year, the publishers of the ubiquitous “Idiot’s Guide” series sent them a hefty manual detailing the rigidly formatted style of the popular how-to books, sort of a “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Complete Idiots Guides,”
“This is literaily a guide for idiots, so we really had to struggle to dumb everything down,” says Knopper, sitting in Bliesener's gar­den-level office in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood. “This had to be something that a 12-year- old could pick up and find useful,”
That was the original plan, anyway.
After Bliesener - a music consultant who runs - enlisted former Daily Camera rock critic Knopper to help write “Starting a Band,” the two decided to do more than just explain how to assemble a garage band. The duo’s completed book tackles that subject thoroughly, then lays out the crucial next steps for a real career in music: getting gigs, recording a demo CD and snagging a record deal.
“Yeah, it’s not very rock ‘n’ roll to use a how-to guide,” admits Bliesener, who manages Big Head Todd & The Monsters and has played drums in bands including ? and the Mysterians and the Prophets. ‘But if you really want to take your band to the next level, you need to grasp some fundamen­tal concepts that aren’t rooted in emotion, Being in a band is like running a small business.”
Knopper adds: “The music business has changed a lot since Mark first started playing in bands in the '60s. There are certain things you just can’t do today without a little help, like getting on the radio,”
The pair spent about four months working on the 313-page book, a process that involved Knopper- a Boulder High School graduate who writes regularly for Rolling Stone - interviewing Bliesener for an hour or two at a time, then compiling the consul­tant’s stories and advice into 25 narrative chapters and scores of helpful tip boxes, glossaries and appendices.
The ‘groupies and drugs’ chapter was the hardest one,” Knopper says, “Mark and I both decided we didn’t want to moralize or be preachy. It’s really a personal choice issue.”
In the chapter “Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll,” the authors write:
“Groupies or no groupies, The issue of one-night stands may come up after performances. Just make sure it doesn't affect the band - if you're in charge of loading out the drum kit, and you skip the job to party with a new friend, you'll anger your fellow musicians."
Similarly, the pair notes that musicians long have used drugs for inspiration but warns that users should be aware of the risks.
‘We just wanted to illustrate the ramifications of making these choices,” Bliesener says.
Other practical suggustions for would-be rock stars, according to “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Band”:
Choosing a name: The best band names are always short, sim­ple and easlly memorable: Oasis, Blur, Kraftwerk, Often, they’re pre­ceded by ‘the’: The Beatles, like Buddy HoIly’s 'The Crickets, only with a ‘beat’; The Rolling Stones, named after Muddy Waters’ classic blues song; and so on ... Another serious consideration ... is whether you can register your band name as a domain name on the Internet.”
Transportation: “Multiple guitars, amps, drums and microphones- not to mention the musicians themselves - probably won’t fit into the bassist’s Yugo. Generally speaking, each band member will needs total of one car for himself and his equipment, Consider borrowing a truck or van from a friend, or finding a cheap one-day rate at U-Haul or Rent-A- Wreck.”
Selling your CD: “The absolute cheapest you can sell your (seIf-released) CD, and still hope to recoup costs, it $5, Under no circumstances do you want to approach $18.98, or whatever the local Tower Records nr other retailer charges for the new Madonna CD. ‘I can buy the new Madonna for that price’ is what you’d call a negative reaction, and you never want to alienate your fan base.”
Record deals: “Here’s why many musicians avoid big record labels entirely: No matter how well you scrutinize the contract, your band (‘if it’s young and relatively unknown) has no power, In the end, you’ll probably have to submit to most things the label demands. This may mean surrendering cre­ative control to your own album, or going into massive debt if your first album or two don’t sell enough copies.”
And the authors’ most important advice?
“Be persistent witisout being a pest,” Bliesener says, “Whether it’s spproaclsing a club owner, whether it’s approaching a radio station or a potential manager, you need to develop that skill, It seems pretty rudimentary, but there are plenty of bands that just don’t get it’

By Matt Sebastian • Camera Music Writer






Past/Present Clients


Frequently Answered Questions


Press Clippings About The BANDGURU


Book Reviews


Contact the BANDGURU


Payment Options


International Consulting


US Record Labels


MP3 Demo Roulette